Marissa Alexander was released on Tuesday after spending three years in jail. The Jackson, Florida, mother is accused of firing a gun at her estranged husband during a physical altercation. Although Rico Gray was not harmed in the incident, Alexander was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was facing up to 60 years in prison.
Prior to her initial trial, the defendant sought immunity, as she claims she was acting in self-defense. According to Alexander, Gray was physically and emotionally abusive throughout their entire relationship. However, in July 2010, her estranged husband reportedly threatened her life.
Marissa Alexander said she fired the gun as a warning. She vehemently denies any intent to harm Rico Gray. Prosecutors argued that the defendant did, in fact, intend to shoot and kill her estranged husband.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey offered Alexander a plea agreement, which included a sentence of three years in prison. However, the defendant refused the deal, as she was not willing to plead guilty. Therefore, the controversial case went to trial.
In May 2012, Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was later sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.
As discussed by Free Marissa Now, Marissa Alexander filed an appeal, citing misleading jury instructions. In September 2013, the appellate court overturned Alexander’s conviction. The three-judge panel determined that “the defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense… defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Alexander’s new trial was postponed numerous times. However, it was eventually set to begin on December 8, 2014.
As reported by Florida Times, State Attorney Corey intended to request an even harsher sentence in Alexander’s retrial. During her original trial, the defendant was sentenced to 20 years on each charges. However, the sentences were to be served concurrently.
Attorney Corey later “argued that the mandatory minimum statute required Alexander to serve three 20 year sentences consecutively.” Therefore, she intended to seek a mandatory sentence of 60 years — if the defendant was convicted during her second trial.
As reported by NBC News, Marissa Alexander consented to a plea agreement before her retrial was set to begin. Per the agreement, she pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a weapon. In exchange, she was released from jail with credit for time served. She will be required to wear an electronic monitor for two years, as she will remain on house arrest. However, She will be permitted to seek employment.
Marissa Alexander’s case gained national attention, as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law protects residents against prosecution if they shoot someone in self-defense. However, the law did not cover warning shots. In June 2014, the law was changed to include warning shots. Unfortunately, Alexander did not qualify, as the incident occurred in 2010.
[Image via MSNBC, Photo by Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union/AP]